Book and Movie Review: Cloud Atlas

There is a movie that I watch over and over again and recommend over and over; it’s Cloud Atlas, which features Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon.

While a lot people will not be interested in this because it seems too sci-fi or who don’t believe in past lives, but we were blown away by this movie.

It is pretty involved, and you really need to pay attention in order to follow it since it jumps quickly between six different time periods.

But after awhile, you start to notice the connection between stories and characters and events. Even using Wikipedia as a cheat sheet, it still was sometimes hard to keep track of who was who and what all was going on, until towards the end it all started to blend and merge and make sense. The ending was amazing and showed how we all are connected, in this time period as well as other times, dimensions and places, and everything we do affects others and the future and the past affects the events in our present.

I think this is why I study both history and science… the past and the future and why I spend so much time tracing my family history and recording my life and current events. Maybe no one right now will find them interesting, but some day I hope someone will.

This is a movie that I’m going to be watching over and over again and each time come away with a new revelation.

My opinion is that this movie is going to take a level of commitment that a lot of people are not going to be willing to give it. My recommendation to anyone who is going to watch this is to first read the synopsis of the book on Wikipedia:

Then read the the movie synopsis:

While the book differs somewhat from the movie in presentation, it will give you an idea of the basic storyline and the characters, I recommend reading the book AFTER watching the movie several times.

That way you will see the interweaving of the characters and the actors who play them… each actor plays a different character in each time frame, although you might not even recognize some the actors.
The make up done in the movie is extraordinary and the movie won several awards for make up (and some criticism).

Then watch the movie. The WHOLE movie, even if you feel bored or confused at the beginning. If you only are willing to give it 15 minutes to grab you, don’t bother watching it. Because it will take watching it all, really watching it and concentrating on what is going on… letting it gel and then letting it finally come together and make sense at the ending.

Roger Ebert said the same thing I did, that this is a movie that you need to watch a second time and then a third time and a fourth time, because it will take all those times to understand the intricate interweavings of the story.

I’ve now own both the movie and the book. I’m going to watch the movie again, then read the book and then watch the movie again.
I’ve started to read the book and it’s incredibly involved, which I love, so much so that I need to research and study everything I read.

While I have studied a lot of history, this book has shown me where I’m lacking. It’s like find new genealogy clues and putting together a puzzle to reveal a beautiful picture.

This is why I say this story, both the movie and the book, will require some commitment. But it’s one of the most brilliant stories I’ve ever seen.

What Dreams May Come is one of my favorites too… I have both the book and the movie of this story too. Cloud Atlas is much more complicated than Dreams.

What Dreams May Come is more about life after death, what people call Heaven, or the Summerlands, or Nirvana. And that the afterlife is like life, we create our own realities.

Cloud Atlas is more about life, and how the past lives influence us in the present and our present is influenced by the past and both influence the future.

In one point, one of the characters is asked if she believes in Heaven and what she thinks that is.. She says that she believes it to be one door closing and another opening. Many people who believe in reincarnation believe that too, that there is no afterlife, that we just go from one lifetime immediately into another.

While What Dreams May Come suggests that we die, go to an afterlife and then can choose to reincarnate again.

4 thoughts on “Book and Movie Review: Cloud Atlas

  1. I had to take a run-up to Cloud Atlas. The first time I tried to watch it, I only made it about 20 minutes in before losing concentration. But I came back to it a couple of months later and really enjoyed it. I absolutely agree that it is a film that requires concentration, but it is worth it. I have watched it a couple of times, but I’d be interested in watching it again after reading the guide so I can appreciate the connections and references I’ve missed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You did it the same way I did. But there is a benefit to that. I watched the movie and was totally confused. I did some research and watched it again. Read the book (another thing that needs to be done multiple times) and watched it again. I’m in the process of reading it again.


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